1. Introduction

About the research

Film Hub Wales commissioned the present research to map current youth film festival provision across Wales, the wider UK and Europe. Film Hub Wales wished to better understand the current youth film festival landscape, particularly in Wales, and to identify tangible opportunities for future development of the sector.

The audit of film festival activity is supplemented by a number of fieldwork interviews, phone and face to face, with festival managers across Wales, the wider UK and Europe to provide analysis of the current landscape, to look at best practice, and identify any gaps, challenges and opportunities within the youth film festival sector in Wales.

The working definition of a film festival applied in this research paper is as follows: “‘An event which takes place annually, bi-annually or less frequently which offers film screenings or a programme of films that would not otherwise be available to the local or national population. It includes events associated with the festival e.g. debate, criticism, guest speakers etc.”

For the purposes of this paper youth film festivals are categorized in one or both of the following descriptions:

  • Dedicated youth film festivals that screen a wide range of films made for or aimed at a young audience.
  • Dedicated youth film festivals that screen a wide range of films made by young people. This includes student film festivals.

The project scope covers dedicated youth film festivals across the 5-26 age range which operated across 2014/15. It does not include wider arts festivals that have an element of film, or established feature film festivals presenting a strand for youth. Qualitative data was collected via fourteen phone and face to face interviews with selected youth film festivals in Wales, the wider UK and Europe. This research builds a picture of youth film festival activity by exploring the following questions and making appropriate recommendations:

Types of provision

  • Where are the youth film festivals in the wider UK and Europe?
  • Who is running youth film festivals across Wales, in what geographical areas, what are they delivering and where are the gaps in terms of service provision and geographical spread?
  • What are their USP’s? What age ranges do they work with?
  • What, if any, provision is being delivered in the Welsh Language?
  • How are youth film festivals funded?
  • Where do they source their content?

Collaboration and partnerships

  • Who do youth film festivals partner with? Where do they see opportunities to develop further partnerships?
  • Do any youth film festivals work with European partners such as ECTARC, YEFF, ERASMUS or the Youth Cinema Network?
  • Are there other networks out there at the moment and what are the benefits?

Advocacy and strategic development

  • Why do we need youth film festivals and what are the benefits of running a festival for young people, and the wider film industry?
  • Should there be a Wales-wide youth filmmaker event and award?
  • What are the barriers to development and sustainability of youth film festivals?
  • Should there be a Wales-wide youth film festival network?
  • What are the barriers to developing any such network?

This report brings together findings from the desk research and consultations to provide:

  • An overview of current activity across Wales, the UK and Europe
  • Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Welsh sector as it stands
  • Analysis of needs and opportunities of the Welsh sector
  • Recommendations based on the needs analysis

Report structure

The report begins with a look at the background of film festival and youth film festival development to provide context to the current festival landscape in Wales, the wider-UK and Europe.

A detailed section on youth film festival provision in Wales follows on from this, based on desk research and interviews with those who work in the sector.

The report closes with a discussion of the issues for youth festival development in Wales, drawn out of the interviews with the sector, along with recommendations for future support options.


Film is a powerful and galvanising form of cultural expression, an inclusive medium universally enjoyed by people of every age and background. It can excite and inform; challenge and entertain; document and celebrate.

In the UK and wider Europe there have been significant developments in film exhibition and education for young people over the past 25 years primarily through the emergence of youth-orientated festivals, the development of Europe-wide networks (Young European Film Forum [YEFF], European Children’s Film Association [ECFA]), advances in digital technology, and local and national film education programmes.

Film Festivals have been part of the international film exhibition landscape for the best part of 85 years. Venice International Film Festival first ran in 1932 and since then thousands of other festivals - local, regional, national and international in ambition - have established themselves across the world. The British Council’s Festival Directory (http://film.britishcouncil.org/festivals-directory) currently lists 1237 film festivals and this certainly doesn’t include local community festivals.

Regardless of scale, film festivals can make a valuable contribution to both the local and wider cultural, social and economic environment, offering opportunities to celebrate film culture as well as attracting new audiences for a wide range of films.